Many experts have spoken about how solar can be used to reduce your electricity bills– an one-time capex and free electricity after that for years to come.
One of the challenges has been the cost and yes as the industry expands, the costs are coming down and it may now be feasible to look at solar.
The next challenge is the absolute saving in electricity bills; not only in percentage. People [industries/commercial complexes, residences] who have a small rooftop [especially in major metros] are not too much in favor of solar. Cuz when solar is installed; the saving in absolute rupees is not that great. And yes they are not wrong in feeling so. This comes from the fact that solar capacity installed is dependent on the rooftop to offer.
How do we solve this?
There are three steps to help complexes use solar to the maximum potential:
1. Use the rooftop to the maximum. Please make sure your architect is involved in this decision making. An architect will be able to bring in more ideas and design layout as compared to a solar engineer/solar sales person. This can also help in increasing the capacity of solar that can be installed on the rooftop. I realized this while consulting on a solar project; working with architects from FountainHead2 Cleantech India
2. Use services of an energy auditor to understand how the building can reduce energy consumption through energy conservation processes. This can include some more capex costs depending on the building, the usage patters, etc. it does not necessarily need to be one-time quick solution but can be carried out in stages. A simple way can be replacing tubes with LEDs, installing energy efficient equipments,etc.
This will reduce the overall power needs; thereby making rooftop solar more effective. So now rooftop solar and energy conservation methods have complemented each other to further decrease your power bills.
The both of above will still not take care of the entire building’s power needs.
3. The third part is using renewable energy [wind/biomass/solar] installed somewhere in the State for the building; through wheeling.
In electric power transmission, wheeling is the transportation of electric power (megawatts or megavolt-amperes) over transmission lines. So a solar power plant in Satara can supply power to a building in Mumbai. Ofcourse there will be some wheeling charges but I believe inspite of these charges the cost of power for the building will be lower than the grid power.
The power plant may not necessary be owned or maintained by the building. It can be owned by a third party with a Power Purchase Agreement between the power plant owner and the building.
So the 3 above solutions working together can actually help a building decrease their energy costs over a long period of time.
The above is a result of discussion with Mr.Sandeep Goswami, COO, FountainHead2